Just a few months back, we witnessed the launch of Malaysia’s new wireless broadband service, powered by the multinational conglomerate YTL Corp’s subsidiary YTL Communications. Labelled YES 4G, the WIMAX-based broadband service promises to bring Internet connectivity to the masses. Yes, Internet for everyone.
Some of us had the privilege to taste and test the service pre-launch, and also a chance to pre-register our YesIDs and 018 voice numbers about a week before the actual launch. So launch it did, and with much fanfare too, as expected from a corporate entity as massive as YTL Corp. Together with the hype of the launch both offline and online also came a plethora of issues and controversy – some tiny, nagging annoyances up to huge hiccups that plagued users and web visitors alike.
Is it really 4G? Or really 3G+1?
Beyond the marketing hype, there has been debate over the usage of the term ‘4G’. The then questioned ITU specifications was that data throughput rates must be at least 100Mbps download. As you know there are two rivaling ‘4G’ technologies – WIMAX2, and LTE 2. YES 4G claims its network speeds are 3-5 times faster than 3G, which puts it in the range of 35Mbps, if we were to presume that the max throughput of 3G (HSDPA) is 7.2Mbps. YTL Comms CEO Wing Lee went on record to say that YES 4G cannot be expected to be dictated by unconfirmed international specifications and that “4G is what it is”. The future of high speed wireless Internet is here.
The Bad and the Ugly
Activation problems, security issues, denial of service attacks. These were just a few of many issues that plagued YES 4G post-launch. Naysayers and skeptics had a field day while frustrated customers (yours truly included) attempted to activate accounts online. The YES 4G site was reportedly getting 300,000 hits per second from DDoS attacks that brought the site down to its knees.
Like many others, I gave up after 36-48 hours of trying to load the homepage as the site continued to suffer performance issues. YES 4G’s customer relationship team on Twitter was certainly challenged with round-the-clock bombardment of complaints. Adding salt to the wound was security issues and system problems, including emails containing plaintext user passwords.
While I observed the myriad conversations online (and occasionally participated in posting feedback/comments) I generally refused to be overly judgmental and critical, preferring to let the hype die down and for YES 4G to find its footing. The YES 4G site only properly went back up over a week after the launch.
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Malaysians are a critical lot, I must admit. Especially sensitive when it comes to telcos, broadband providers and value-for-money. Unfortunately the general sentiment of providers is of skepticism and cynicism. Much attributed to the fact that execution of quality services often falls short of marketing hype and promises.
YES 4G was not spared, for obvious reasons. You can’t blame consumers for having that tad of skepticism when a new player in the game, without a track record in telecommunications suddenly appears out of the blue, promising faster, better, cheaper service over its competitors.
When the dust settled, YES’s site became operational again and over the course of a couple of weeks saw gradual improvements in features, content and stability. From the day I managed to get my account activated (it took several emails back and forth), I’ve been testing and using YES 4G via the GO dongle. It’s been close to five months since.
What the future holds
Samsung has been contracted to build 1,500 base stations for YES and they’ve already built substantial numbers over the past year. From our first hand experience during the #yespenang Blogger Food Hunt where we had a roadtrip from KL-Bidor-Taiping-Penang, you can tell that YES is serious about coverage and performance (more on this trip in my next post).
Officially launching YES 4G up north in Penang was another positive step. Bloggers testing around Penang have reported consistent speeds of 5Mbps, which isn’t too shabby at all! Upcoming will be the East Coast – Terengganu and Pahang. Unverified reports have mentioned that YTL Comms have received the license to operate in Sarawak, so good news to East Malaysians!
In a short number of months, YES is already servicing over 100,000 subscribers.
YES 4G has a complete suite of devices available now – ZOOM (static modem/router), GO (USB dongle), HUDDLE (MiFi device) and BUZZ (4G phone co-developed with Samsung). Complementing that are valuepacks which offer much more bang-for-buck and rebates for voice/data users. Even more savings compared to its Pay-As-You-Go plan.
Coming soon, and under-development are top-of-the-line 3G/4G Android-based smartphones. Personally can’t wait for this! Also under development and to be released soon is a Mac-version of YES Life. Yippee.
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Why did I say yes? I was tired of slow poke speeds, and mostly inconsistency of data over 3G/EDGE. As I move around a lot, being connected and at reasonable speeds is a must. Unfortunately, as facts indicate, 3G is NOT great for data. And it shows. Since adopting YES 4G, I’ve been completely spoiled by blazing speeds, consistently 1-5Mbps even in low signal areas. In places where signal is strong, I’ve gotten as high as 10-16Mbps which is unprecedented, where wireless broadband is concerned.
It’s become my principle broadband service, only using my 3G as backup. Pay-As-You-Go (PAYG) isn’t as cheap as it sounds if you are a heavy user, so I’m glad YES has introduced valuepacks which is at least RM20 cheaper per package of PAYG. The HUDDLE is now my best friend, giving my MacBook Pro, iPad and Nexus One speeds I need to work, play on the go. Personally, I’d like to see even better coverage around KL/PJ, as there are still blind spots which need to be plugged.
At this juncture, I believe this new player in the telco business has what it takes to fulfill its vision. Builders at heart, they have the muscle, resources and expertise to build the infrastructure.
Obviously it wasn’t the easiest “Yes” to make for me in the beginning, but I’m glad I gave it a shot. Oh other people said yes, too. So should you. What is there to lose, really?